US-based Velodyne Lidar went public this week on September 29, 2020. The company combined with Graf Industrial Corp., a subsidiary of a publicly traded special purpose acquisition company (a.k.a. SPAC) prior to the announcement of the IPO. The company is trading on NASDAQ with the ticker VLDR.
The company was founded in 2007 and develops a range of 3D imaging sensors specifically for object detection and guidance for all types of autonomous vehicles. The company has expanded its product line to include 3D real-time perception systems used in a variety of commercial applications including autonomous vehicles, vehicle safety systems, 3D mobile mapping, 3D aerial mapping, and security.
In addition to serving the automotive market, Velodyne is delivering lidar for new markets including smart city with smart intersections, security, mobile 3D mapping, industrial and factory robotics, smart agriculture, sidewalk delivery, drone/unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and more. There is a growing demand in these new markets as they ramp up business and expand. Velodyne’s lidar solutions are being utilized on a global scale by a highly diversified customer base.
A Bright Future In Autonomous Mobile Robotics
We see Velodyne as a promising vendor for lidar technology in the future. While this is not a recommendation to invest (you’ll need to make that decision on your own), we do believe that companies like Velodyne are creating the necessary innovation and components that make autonomous mobile robotics (AMR) possible. Every AMR uses either lidar and/or a 3D vision camera for guidance and/or obstacle detection.
Velodyne is one of several companies who are developing solid state lidar components. Current mechanical lider (spinning mirror + laser) devices can be expensive. Solid state lidar promises to be less expensive and more robust. As lidar component providers find additional applications for their sensors in adjacent markets such as autonomous vehicles, they have the opportunity for large volumes which drive down unit costs for all users. It is this cost curve advantage that many AMR vendors are hoping for in the coming years.